SALT LAKE CITY — The pastor of a church in Wendover was charged Thursday with sexually abusing a girl in his congregation.
Josue Romero, 46, of Wendover, was charged in Tooele County’s 3rd District Court with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony.
The parents of a 16-year-old girl recently told police that they were getting ready for church, but their daughter refused to go, according to a police affidavit.
“The mother stated she asked the victim why she did not want to go to church wherein the victim told her there were things that no one knows about that happen at the church,” the affidavit states.
The girl then told her mother that Romero had inappropriately touched her for several years while at the church located at 810 Pilot Ave., between 2016 and 2018, according to the affidavit.
When police interviewed the girl, she told detectives that Romero “touched her inappropriately in the church while he was the pastor. The victim stated that Josue touched her while they were in class and he was sitting next to her,” the affidavit states.
“The victim stated they were seated at a large table reading from the Bible with other children around, but no one could see because of the table,” the affidavit continued. “The victim stated she was not exactly sure how many times Josue touched her inappropriately but estimated ‘about 20 times.’ ... The victim stated the first time it occurred was when she was in fifth grade and the last time it happened was when she was in seventh grade.”
The girl said Romero also inappropriately touched her during a sleepover at the church, and at a church party when they were playing hide and seek, the affidavit states.
After interviewing Romero, he was arrested by police.
Police also noted in the affidavit that Romero is “employed at the local recreation center which is used mostly by underage juveniles.”